Month twelve was a huge roller coaster of emotions for me. It didn’t help that I was dealing with insomnia because of what happened last month and because of the places we stayed. I spent the first week of this month wishing I could be back in Canada where I have control of my sleep environment.
But as the month passed and we moved to a place where I had a better quality of sleep, I felt sad about leaving this lifestyle. Nomad living was all that I knew in the last year. While I have so much to look forward to when I am back home, I will miss living on the road.
We spent the month visiting every place possible in Taipei and meeting up with friends
We also spent many nights visiting a ton of night markets because of Gary’s obsession with fried chicken the size of your face and fried noodles.
I met up with an old friend from University who didn’t know I was travelling for a year and was so confused when I said I have no schedule and could meet up anytime haha. Ah, the beauty of slow travel.
We made the most of each passing day until the day came when it was time to leave Taiwan.
The last day of our year of travels was a mix of emotions
Sad to be leaving Asia but excited to be back in Canada. I was that weird girl walking around singing the Canadian anthem (homesickness shows up in crazy ways).
And of course, long airplane rides where you’re cut from civilization (ok, it feels that way with no Internet) leaves room for a lot of reflection. All 10 hours of reflection.
How will I feel when I’m back in Canada? Do I need time to decompress? How do I process what happened in the last year? Will I be able to integrate back into civilization? I mean… not only did I spend a whole year travelling full time, but I changed in so many ways. I lived a very minimalist lifestyle and loved the simplicity that came with this life. What will that mean for me when I am back?
Without the internet, I do what makes the most sense
I try to be productive with my time by reviewing videos and photos and came across this picture taken at Taoyuan airport. I can’t tell you how weird it felt to be standing in the same place exactly one year ago at the beginning of our year of travel.
So many memories, so many moments
Cherished memories that will replay forever and ever in my heart.
Month 12 | Summary Of The Modern Nomadic Lifestyle
Budget: While we were over budget on food and gifts, our spend was still less than the cost of living in Toronto.
Places Visited: Taipei, Hualien, Jiufen
Items Lost/What I Wish I Packed: My Clarisonic brush and my electric toothbrush
Transportation: Flight from Taipei to Vancouver and Vancouver to Toronto
What I Miss: Being able to read ingredient labels, eating healthy. We ate so terribly during our last month in Taiwan
- Feeling like I want to hurl while looking for a nearby bathroom and trying to make sure if I can catch the train to Hualien in time.
- Watching the news unfold about typhoon Maria. I’ve never had to stay in a place that had a typhoon before. Although according to the locals, it was only a dribble.
We got these little stamps from 7-11 that had the #1 on each one. I thought we could use the stamps to pay for our purchases, like the ones we had in Thailand. Nope, not the case at all in Taiwan.
You can only imagine the confused look on the cashier’s face when Gary placed 40+ stamps on her hand when it came time to pay for his purchase. Her expression was like “are you serious? You’re trying to pay for this purchase with stamps?”
Memorable Moments: Our short trip to Hualien was incredible. Also finally winning a bunch of stuffed animals at claw machines after months of studying how they work was awesome! I couldn’t stop laughing because I finally hit the claw machine jackpot! (Side note: I became super obsessed with claw machines during our time in Japan. I am a dork, I know. And to take this next dorkiness to the next level…I have a spreadsheet tracking our “ROI” LOL)
The whole thoughts become things mantra is real. Take the temple pic below as an example.
I wished for a view of a temple overlooking the bay. Once I arrived at Jiufen, I realized how hard it was to navigate Jiufen using Google Maps. After giving up on finding a temple, I opened Pokemon Go to distract myself from my disappointment and followed a Pokestop only to see the view that I envisioned in my mind.
Yucky Moments: found what looked like to be nose hair in my food
Thoughts and feelings during the month 12 of the modern nomadic lifestyle
I felt as if I was stuck in this weird limbo state throughout the month
I’m no longer going to be here, but I’m not quite there yet. It’s an odd feeling
For the longest time, we didn’t know when we’d come back to Canada
Many people kept asking me about our return date, but we honestly didn’t know the answer until month eight when we decided to sit down and start tracking flight costs. The reason why we didn’t know was simple. While we intended to stay for a year, we would come back early if we realized that travelling for this long was way more expensive than we anticipated. Or if something happened at home and we needed to go back for whatever reason. Luckily, nothing required us to go home early. In fact, we could have stayed for another week or two in Taiwan from a financial perspective. But our travel insurance could not be extended while we were out of the country… boo
Not having access to a Canadian phone number is very limiting
You have no idea how many websites I could not log in because they needed to send a security code to my Canadian phone number… which I didn’t think we packed (remember me complaining about my no SIM card dilemma in month 10?). It wasn’t until we landed on Canadian soil when I saw Gary taking out my Canadian SIM card that I realized HE HAD IT THE WHOLE TIME.
Note to future travellers, bring your SIM card with you and make sure you can get international text messages. Or, change your phone number on all your security recovery code applications.
I was hoping to get some stuff done overseas but struggled to because of my lack of Canadian number. For example, I couldn’t call CRA or any Canadian government numbers. Apparently, they recognized my number in my current time zone (i.e. 9 pm my time even though it’s 9 am EST) and kept telling me to call during business hours.
The toughest part of month 12 for me was not getting enough sleep
Our apartment in Taipei didn’t have good curtains to keep the sunlight out, and I was struggling with insomnia. My days looked something like this: Fall asleep at 4 AM, only to wake up at 5 AM from the daylight at sunrise.
Insomnia continued in Hualien where Gary booked a dungy looking hostel. Seriously, it looked like we were in a concrete prison. It didn’t help that the AC didn’t work well in Taiwan’s hot weather and there was the sound of dripping water from some unknown place ALL NIGHT!
I remember staring at the ceiling and thinking how great it would be to get a restful sleep for the first time in a month. Those were the moments where I was looking forward to going home and sleeping in the same bed every night.
I still get funny responses when I tell people I am Canadian
Even from Asians. Here’s an example. I met a Singapore lady in Hualien. Our conversation went something like this:
Her: Where are you from?
Her: But what are you really? Are you there for work or study?
Me: … I was born in Canada, but I am Chinese/Vietnamese
Her: Oh ok. But your parents don’t come from Mainland China right…
And then she went on to prod about my grandpa (who was born in Mainland China) and how he has nothing to do with Mainland China.
I’m so proud to be Canadian
Leaving Canada for a year has made me realize how much I take Canada for granted. Canada truly is the best country in the world to live. While I love travelling and learning about different cultures, Canada will always be home to me.
My dad has said this to me countless times growing up. How I don’t profoundly understand how lucky I am to be Canadian, or the opportunities I have because of this incredible country.
This trip has made me so much more grateful to be born in a land with so many possibilities.
Photography progress during month 12 of the modern nomadic lifestyle
Finally slowing down on taking photos. I’m not editing 298,239,832,983,928,938,298,328 photos each day when I come home. I still have a lot of pictures to go through though.
I don’t like taking photos when it’s too hot. Unless I am hiding in the shade
Gary doesn’t either. I had to get him to retake the first photo in this blog post.
Here is a behind-the-scenes look at those moments when I show him exactly what I want, but he ends up taking something else because he’s hot and tired.
There’s a lot of time, patience, reviewing on the spot and retakes for specific photos. I think it’s worth the time and effort though.
Some photos are stupid easy to take
It just requires thought and planning. Like this one:
We bought a cheap lens filter when we were in Namdaemun market in Seoul a while back. While it’s done an excellent job at protecting my lens, it also causes significant glare.
It was tough to take photos from the plane
Edit as I may, there’s still this weird hazy looking feel from the airplane window
We didn’t get to take a photo at the famous rocks on Elephant Mountain
I’m pretty disappointed but I knew the lighting wouldn’t be as good and there were just too many people in the way!
Luckily, we found another place where only the locals go and were able to take pictures like this one:
What’s next for next month
I’m back home! A part of me misses Canada so much that I might just kiss the first Canadian flag I see. But at the same time, I am quite sad that this journey has come to an end.
A few people have asked me to write about a post about what life is like after travelling for a year. I may post a quarterly update at some point so stay tuned! And let me know what kind of questions you have about reintegrating back into society haha.